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Adsorption of HCN onto sodium montmorillonite dependent on the pH as a component to chemical evolution

  • M. Colin-Garcia (a1), A. Heredia (a2), A. Negron-Mendoza (a2), F. Ortega (a1), T. Pi (a1) and S. Ramos-Bernal (a2)...

Abstract

The aim of this work is to study the behaviour of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) adsorbed onto mineral surfaces (sodium montmorillonite, a clay mineral) in different pH environments as a possible prebiotic process for complexation of organics. Our experimental results show that specific sites on the surface of the clay increased the concentration of HCN molecules dependent on the pH values. Moreover, this adsorption can occur through physical and chemical interactions enhanced by the channel structure of the sodium montmorillonite. The three-dimensional channelling structure of the clay accumulates the organics, hindering the releasing (desorption) of the organic molecules. A molecular model developed here also confirms the role of the pH as a regulating factor in the adsorption of HCN onto the inorganic surfaces and the possibility for further reactions forming more complex molecules, as an abiotic mechanism important in prebiotic chemical evolution processes.

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